Friday, 18 April 2014

Visionary

Wow, I've fallen behind quite a lot. I do apologize, but I've been working on this anthology story and it has been surprisingly time consuming. But, since I've completed a sizeable chunk of that story, I feel like I can peel myself away for a while to reward my faithful readers.
Now, after this post, I won't return until I finish that story, and even then, there will just be one post before the next Duke Forever (which will take a short while) but hopefully you will enjoy this post in the meantime, to tide you over before that next project. And today, I have something on my mind that I want to talk about.

See, yesterday, I got new glasses. Well, I got new lenses and kept the same frame, but it's essentially like having brand new glasses and so the experience has got me thinking about glasses, in general. Because I have always felt like there is a kind of romantic ideal when it comes to wearing glasses, both in the sentimental sense, and in the chivalrous sense. Because I'm near-sighted, and without my glasses, I can only see things that are about a foot away from my face, so when I'm with my Beloved, I can take off my glasses and wholeheartedly say: "All I can see . . . is you."
 . . . and wholeheartedly mean it in every sense of the phrase.
But being an old-fashioned romantic is not all there is to owning glasses. In fact, you could say, that wearing glasses is, in so many ways, spectacular. The Word of the Day is: 'SPECTACLE'

Spectacle /'spektəkəl/ n. 1. Anything presented to the sight or view, especially something of a striking or impressive kind: The stars make a fine spectacle tonight. 2. A (large) public show or display: The coronation was a lavish spectacle. 3. (pl.) Eyeglasses; A device to aid faulty eyesight or to protect the eyes from light, dust, etc., consisting usually of two glass lenses set in a frame, especially with pieces passing over or around the ears for holding them in place. 4. Often, Spectaclesa. Something resembling spectacles in shape or function. b. Any of various devices suggesting spectacles, as one attached to a semaphore to display lights or different colours by coloured glass. 5. Obsolete A spyglass. 6. Make a spectacle of oneself, to call attention to one's unseemly behaviour; behave foolishly or badly in public: They tell me I made a spectacle of myself at the party last night.

There's something about owning glasses which I experienced yesterday, which someone with unaided vision will never have seen for themselves, but I want to do my best to share that with you in this post. After all, what is the point of being able to write, if I can't use it to share unique experiences?
So I want to walk you through my experience of walking home with new glasses; because, seriously . . . woah, it was trippy.

Yesterday, I recieved a text message saying my new lenses were ready, so this morning, I walked to the shopping centre where I'd had my eyes checked. The shopping centre is about 30 minutes away through a park, by a busy road, past an open field and through some trees and a suburb. That's not important now, but it's an important part of foreshadowing for later in the story that I walked through the place oblivious of my surroundings because I'd seen it before, it was dull.
I went to the shop, the lady asked what I was there for, I said "I'm here for my new lenses" so she sat me down and asked for my glasses, so she could fit the new lenses into the frame. So, I sat on the couch thingy, and gave her my glasses.

Now. I am quite blind without my glasses. As I said in the pre-definition statement, I am near-sighted, and because my field of vision is half a metre or so, I can't see shit with the naked eye. I can read up close, and often take off my glasses to read books (which confuses people who are used to reading glasses), but without I just stare awkwardly and blankly around, trying to make out shapes, and seeing only fuzzy blobs.
Then the lady gave me my new glasses to try. I put them on, and I immediately could see her face. She wasn't old, so don't think that, but I could see the natural wrinkles, freckles and features of her face, so I knew it was working, but when I looked past her, to the wall of glasses, my vision was warped. Not "blurry" so much as out of focus. They may sound like the same thing. My usual blurry just looks like the colours between shapes start to "spread out" and blend, as the light diffuses within my misshapen cornea, but this was more like the bokeh blur, like on artsy photographs. I told the lady that it was blurry, so she took the glasses - because they weren't sitting straight on my face - and adjusted it to see if that helped.
Admittedly, this time my blindness felt so pronounced because, for a second, I could see up close really well. She gave me the glasses back and the glasses sat straight, but the same problem was there. I could see the shop assistant, but stuff further away looked out of focus. The lady told me to go for a walk, because sometimes it takes a while to adjust, and if there was still a problem I could come back.

So, I went for a walk. And as I stepped outside, I felt shorter. I experience this all the time when I get an upgrade to my prescription, but this time it was much more pronounced. I was used to it, but you might find it odd, so allow me to explain:
When someone says you have 20/20 vision, they mean "Something 20 feet away from you, looks as it would 20 feet from a healthy eye". I don't have 20/20 vision, mine is probably closer to 20/120 these days. Which means "Something  I can clearly see at 20 feet, looks as it would 120 feet away from a healthy eye". Something like:
 ๏  ๏: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .X. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Brain: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .X.
However, because my eyes have been like that for so long, my brain sort of equalized it. It got used to having bad vision, so it came to an understanding "yes, something that looks that far away is close, that's fine", so it evened it out:
 ๏  ๏: .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .X.
Brain: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .X.
This is a rough illustration, but yeah, my brain understood that stuff that's close looks shitty, as though it's far away. But when I put my glasses on, it corrected the shitty vision disparity from the first picture. So when I put in my new glasses, my brain compensated before my eyes knew what was happening:
⌐□-□: .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .X.
Brain: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .X. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
So, I felt like I was half a metre tall.

And as I walked around, I realized that that was the problem. My eyes had gotten so used to focussing on stuff up close, that I wasn't actually looking at the stuff far away. And when I actually focussed my eyes . . . wow. It is so weird looking around at the details of the world, because I found myself glancing everywhere, drinking in all of the stuff I hadn't been able to see for so long. The scratches on signs, the wrinkles on faces, the texture of surfaces. I was glancing around like a kid in a candy store, trying to decide which sweet they wanted most. Except I was sampling all of the treats, with my eyes.

Anyway, because my glasses were working, I went home. And I couldn't stop staring at the grass. When you look at grass, you probably ignore it. But as I walked, I found myself staring at the ground. Because of the shortening illusion, it felt like it was within reach. I only ever see it that close when I'm crawlign on all fours, so I felt like I could reach out and touch it. But as I moved my hand into view, I started staring at it because it looked so small, yet when I looked at my palm, it felt big, because it was up so close. I swear, Sean Lock was right, normal people have to take drugs to feel like this . . .

Now, as I was walking I was starting to get a headache. This was a combination of things. Firstly, I'm a little photosensitive, and it was a bright day. Secondly, despite my optometrist's suggestion, I hadn't been exercising my eyes enough. See I read books and look at computer screens a lot, up close; if you do the same, it's a good idea to exercise your eyes by looking into the distance on occasion, so that those muscles in your eye which allow you to do that, don't wither or atrophy. So, when I started getting headaches, I remembered that advice, and started staring at trees as I walked past. So that I'd see the in the distance, then watch them as I got closer.
At first, I was just exercising my eyes. But after a while, I was doing it because it was fascinating. I swear, I felt like I was wearing 3D glasses. Now, that might seem weird - of course it was like that, this is the real world it's always like that - but I mean it. Everything usually looks dull to me. But because I could see it in such detail, and I was watching it slowly turn (from my perspective) in that space. It was like my world was once on a little cathode-ray tube box television, and had been swapped out for a high definition flatscreen.

But the weirdest part of all, because I was so unused to seeing everything, I realized that I wasn't turning very much. See, half-way through the walk home, I had to turn around to check for traffic, because I had crossed onto the island in the middle of a U-turn bay and was seeing if there was a car coming. But as I turned, I just sort of scanned about, turning really slowly.
At first I didn't understand why. But after I crossed the road, I looked around and I realized that I was doing it because there was so much in my new field of vision, that it felt thick to me. It was like my eyes were wading through a new soup of visual stimuli. So when I turned, I was still drinking it all in, and didn't want to turn too fast, in case it was all too much.

And in fact, it was too much. When I got home, my eyes hurt from all the "exercise" they'd been getting and I had a headache. So I took my glasses off and had a shower.
Thankfully, I'm better now. My eyes have finally adjusted to the new magnification and I feel normal again, and I am happy to say that I am writing this blog post, touch-typing and watching the words fill the screen through my new lenses.

So, that's what it's like to get new glasses. It's a weird experience and I'm almost sad that it's over. It really opened my eyes to the world - literally and figuratively - because we take vision for granted. But when I could see each individual blade of grass; every tiny beetle on the ground; every line in the bark of the trees; every single grain of dirt on the footpath & every single detail the world had to offer, I realized how spectacular, vibrant, detailed and beautiful it really is . . .

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd and until next time, although I won't experience that same feeling again, I can always change my perspective and experience the world in a new way. It's as simple as removing my glasses . . .

1 comment:

  1. It's a relief to hear that your vision is adjusting to the stronger lenses, although that must be a strange sensation, feeling that the ground is closer and that details are more sharply into focus. This will make writing much more invigorating and detailed, to note all the wrinkles and textures on each surface . . .

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